An investigation of the effectiveness of Reusable Learning Objects as a blended learning tool in an undergraduate engineering design module.
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Blended learning is an emerging trend across many educational settings, adopting the purposeful integration of traditional face-to-face and online teaching to establish an engaging learning experience for the students. Digital technologies and varied pedagogical strategies in a new blend of approaches to learning and teaching are enhancing the learning experience. Blended learning provides an ideal platform for the implementation of Reusable Learning Objects (RLO’s) as a pedagogical tool to support classroom instruction. This study investigated the effectiveness of RLO’s as a blended learning tool in undergraduate engineering design modules in IT Sligo. A quasi experimental study was employed, involving 38 students from the 2014/2015 academic year, as the control group and 41 students from the 2015/2016 academic year, as the experimental group. A mixed methods approach, combining aspects of quantitative and qualitative data was employed to evaluate this intervention, in terms of student academic achievement and student perceptions of the blended approach. There was no statistical difference in the mean of the overall grades between both groups, across both modules. Further analysis revealed sufficient statistical evidence to suggest that the blended learning approach had a significant impact on the students’ end of term exam grades in the module Design 102, supported by an effect size of 0.37 and a significant positive relationship, r = 0.44, between the students’ RLO’s usage and end of term exam grades in Design 102. Student perceptions of the blended learning approach were very positive; consistent with the literature, with the RLO’s viewed as a means of reinforcing their understanding of material covered in class. These design modules may be more suited to the implementation of RLO’s, therefore, a similar blended approach should be employed across other modules and compare the findings.
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